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Catherine Kalamidas

By Catherine Kalamidas | May 14, 2020

I started out in 1999 at a startup organizing congresses in the maritime/shipping industry. The company was designing their own events, and it was interesting to take on the challenge of creating something from just an idea on a piece of paper!

I was responsible for the European Space Agency Conference Bureau, with an office in the Netherlands and in Italy. It was challenging work, in service of a big idea, and I enjoyed it immensely. Since that time, I have had the privilege to work in service of another big idea: Future Rotterdam. I have been at Rotterdam Partners since April 2016 and love the energy of the organization. Everyone is fully focused on building a better future for the city, and it is a good feeling to know that everything you do contributes in some small way.

Being part of a convention bureau is about more than just showcasing your city to the world, but also about building community based on shared needs and values in your own city. During the first few weeks of the novel coronavirus pandemic, my colleagues and I were in constant communication with our local event industry partners, but also connecting with our valued colleagues internationally to help where we could. The impact on their daily operations, regardless of the size of the enterprise, was significant.

At the same time, we were adjusting to this new normal and taking the first steps toward some form of recovery. It is a complicated path, but I really believe that the time will come when we will meet again, because the need people have to engage in person is stronger than fear. And as an industry we have endured other challenges and recovered, because we are incredibly resilient and committed to each other.

My personal challenge during this pandemic is that I am physically cut off from my parents and my extended family in New York. I worry endlessly about them, and struggle with the idea that I cannot just go to them if I need to. I am hopeful, however, that this too will pass.  

I think we are the hardest-working industry out there, with touchpoints across so many other industries. We are an added value to every enterprise because our people are incredibly skilled problem solvers who are able to work across cultures. I love the energy, the creativity and the exuberant intention to make the world go round by bringing people together. We create opportunities for people to share knowledge and build relationships in an environment designed to be surprising, healthy, sustainable and responsible.

The shift toward sustainability in most aspects of event planning is the most important change during my time in the industry. You see an increasing number of organizations taking on the drive toward sustainable practices as part of their mission. Especially in this period where we see the impact of our current situation on the environment, we may very well be poised to move forward and completely embrace sustainability as a key aspect of our events.

Our industry needs the actions to back up the sense that we are one community, and the belief that our role is not to be missed in the post COVID-19 era. We will meet again.



Catherine Kalamidas

Catherine Kalamidas is account manager for Rotterdam Partners and a member of the MPI Netherlands Chapter.